To give you a bit of my background, I am an 17 year-old guy, only-child and am going to an all-boys school. Often times, I find myself being incredibly nervous around girls who I see around my town. I usually have no problem talking to or hanging out with girls at my church or ones that I’ve known for a while. It’s just that I get anxious/scared whenever I see a semi-attractive stranger, say, at a grocery store or library or Starbucks. Am I crazy? What can I do to build more confidence?
(I made you anonymous just in case.)
I completely understand you because I was exactly this way through most of middle school, high school, and college. I became this uptight, weird, unlikely version of myself around the opposite sex, and all my friends noticed.
The truth is, many confident-looking guys are overcompensating in some areas to look more confident, when they’re really not. Either by money or looks or clothes or using a smooth-talk script they heard from a bad friend or stupid movie, they’re riding on a false machismo that isn’t really cool: underneath it is still a scared twelve year old that is worried for the future. Those “Make-Over” shows use the concept of external change to create a new “attitude,” but it’s nothing more than a crutch for a broken ego.
And you know what? It’s really okay to admit that you have worries, fears, and anxieties. It’s okay to be a little awkward. When you focus too much on how awkward you are, you become even more awkward anyway. So let all that hang out and say: Yes, here’s me, I am sometimes a social weirdo and this is how God made me. I don’t mean in a prideful way, but in a way that you don’t take yourself so seriously. You almost dismiss yourself and trust God with who you are: and that’s when you really find yourself.
This will sound strange, but it is WAY better to be okay with your own awkwardness than to try to correct it by self-pressure. Being confident of your own weird self is all the real confidence you need. If you try to make a good impression, then of course it’ll make a worse impression.
Trusting God is also trusting how He has made you uniquely YOU. It’s to know that God sent His Son for you and loves you just as you are, the nervousness and all, and this is real confidence: a sort of humility that submits to God’s plan. People who are comfortable with themselves have increasingly found their security in God’s absolute, never-stopping, always-constant love. This is the Real You that God is sculpting you to be. We so often hide that with a cultural idea of “confidence” that is really just shallow fakery, whether it’s a nicer car or better hair or cuter purse. Those things are fine, but not if they define you. Let yourself out to play.
When it comes to girls, what is your worst fear? I have this very irrational fear of heights, and the end conclusion of my fear is that I’ll somehow flip over the railing of the second floor in a mall and fall to my untimely death. But the fear is irrational because it’s such an implausible end result. I still feel the fear in high places, but I continue to preach the truth to myself. It’s really enough to get me through the emotional fog.
Let your fear play out. So if you fart in front of a girl or say something dumb, then what? Will she bite your head off or kick you in the stomach or scream in horror? So what if she laughs at you? Again, you don’t have to take that too seriously. It’s okay to laugh with them. I laugh at myself often. Not in a degrading way, but it’s a self-deprecating knowledge that I will never be as confident as I think I should be, that God gives me grace when I act stupid, and that humans are generally kind of twitchy and bizarre and crazy: which is okay. What the heck is “normal” anyway?
The moment I quit worrying about confidence, suddenly there’s confidence. It might be a lifelong struggle, but God is there cheering for you. There is also a future-wife out there who will find your unique brand of weirdness just awesome. Don’t hide that. This might sound trite but it’s not less true: be who God has created you to be.